Wednesdays With Hildy: Does The NHL Have An Obligation To Help Others?

After the tragic passing of New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard and former Vancouver Canucks forward Rick Rypien, there was an outcry among some of the league's fans regarding raising awareness for mental health issues, and those cries got louder at the passing of Wade Belak. They wanted the league to do something more to help players suffering from depression and other mental disorders, but more than that many fans said that it was the league's obligation to raise awareness regarding mental health issues in general, perhaps a la their Hockey Fights Cancer initiative.

The Canucks have donated $50,000 to help establish a website and a service in British Columbia for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation specifically to promote mental health for children and young adults, and to help people who are having issues with mental disorders - the service also offers support for friends and family members suffering from depression, which is an important aspect in treatment that's overlooked. It's wonderful of the Canucks specifically to focus on children. As a psychology teacher - or just even a teacher in general - I've had students struggle with problems, and a service like this would have been a Godsend for them.

The Blues - individuals and the team itself - are outstandingly involved in community services, whether by personal choice (the players) or as a member of the community (the Blues). We're fortunate to have a team such as the Blues who are integrated in the community and who take pride in the St. Louis area. The NHL in general is full of very generous individuals who are willing to drop everything to go to a childrens' hospital, help pack lunches for the homeless, or to go save a cute puppy from an abandoned building. A lot of what these guys and these teams do doesn't make the front pages of the paper, and I'm pretty sure that the teams and players prefer it that way.

Obligation's an awfully strong word sometimes. It insinuates that someone HAS to do something, that it's their moral duty. It's hard to pin that on a person, but it's even harder to pin that on an entire organization or business. Is this a cause that the NHL now must champion since they've lost at least one player to the darkness of mental illness? The bigger question, past if the league "has" to help is this: does having an obligation to help with a cause cheapen the work done? Is the intent to serve diminished by the motivation? To me, the NHL doesn't have to champion any cause that they don't want to, much like individuals don't have to donate to charity if they don't want to. Canada and the US are both free countries.

Would it be right of them - a generous thing to do? Absolutely, and it's something that I support them doing 100%. But do they have to?

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